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Broadcast Content Sponsored by Foreign Governments Under Scrutiny

- Pai Proposes New Disclosure, New FCC Commissioner on Tap

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last week proposed new disclosure requirements for Radio and TV broadcasters airing content sponsored or provided by foreign governments, an issue of keen interest to Texas’ U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Pai is pushing for “strong, clear” disclosures in a standard format and asking his fellow commissioners to act quickly.

Sen. Cruz recently expressed concerns in a case where a Tijuana, Mexico radio station was broadcasting Mandarin Chinese language content to Southern California from a studio used by a company owned by Phoenix TV.

“Phoenix TV is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party that broadcasts propaganda across the United States,” Cruz said in a June statement praising the FCC for terminating the temporary authorization it had granted in 2018 which triggered a complaint from a local community radio station.

In announcing his new regulatory proposal, Pai said that American TV and Radio audiences have the right to know whether a foreign government is generating the programming they’re consuming.

“With some station content coming from the likes of China and Russia, it is time to update our rules and shed more sunlight on these practices,” he said.

The proposed regulation would require a specific disclosure at the time of broadcast if a foreign governmental or political entity has paid a Radio or Television station, directly or indirectly, to air material, or if the content was provided free of charge by such an entity as an inducement to broadcast the program.

Potential O’Rielly Successor Named
The Trump Administration has named Nathan Simington, a senior advisor now working at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), as its nominee to succeed Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.

Commissioner O’Rielly, who keynoted the 2019 TAB Show and was a chief architect of the deregulatory spree the FCC has been executing over the past three years, was on track to be reappointed until he made comments that were deemed insufficiently supportive of Administration efforts to regulate speech on the Internet.

Simington reportedly worked on NTIA’s petition urging the FCC to review Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which gives online platforms near total immunity from complaints over comments posted by users.

If approved by the Senate as expected – most likely after the election – his term will extend to July 2024.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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